“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:56)
There is something very special about sharing communion at church. Please God that we never just ‘go through the motions’ during those times. But our remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice shouldn’t be confined just to the Lord’s supper. I remember reading about a Pentecostal preacher, Smith Wigglesworth, who took communion every day. Not something that I’m in the habit of doing myself, but I do appreciate that behind this daily practice was a desire to keep the cross at the forefront of his mind.
Jesus tells us that we’re to eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to abide with him and him in us. To some people, eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Jesus might sound a bit odd. Unsurprisingly perhaps, it aroused suspicions in early church history, with accusations of cannibalism levelled at Christians. Thankfully, this allegation didn’t stick! But through hearsay, gossip and opposition to the gospel, it’s not hard to see why believers were accused of such things.
Jesus uses this figurative language because he’s offering something beyond that which the following crowds are craving. He has just fed them with a miraculous provision of bread, rather like their forefathers who were fed by manna from heaven. But Jesus comes offering so much more than a full stomach. He offers them “true bread” (John 6:32) and proclaims himself to be the “living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51).
The claims of Jesus are met with widespread disapproval from the vast crowds who are following him. Sure, they were happy to gorge themselves on the loaves he had provided to placate their physical hunger. But they’re not so hungry for Jesus himself, the only one who can satisfy the deepest desires and longings of their hearts. Basically, they wanted what Jesus gave rather than who Jesus was. We face the very same temptation, of course. How easy it is to pursue Jesus because of what he provides, rather than because of who he is.
Another reason why Jesus urges us to continually “feast” on his flesh and blood, is because this is an important means by which we abide or remain in him. We can only dwell with Christ because he has made it possible through his death on the cross. And so it’s important that we endeavour to remember Christ’s sacrifice beyond those times of communion at church. Indeed, I need to ensure that all my words, thoughts and actions take place in the shadow of the cross.
So let’s actively remember the cross in every situation that we might face this week. Let’s allow it to inform and impact every area of our lives. Eat in the sacrificial love of Jesus when you perhaps feel like snapping at a spouse, child, parent, boss, or friend. Pause and think of the blood of Jesus that was shed for you and let that wash away the annoyance and harsh words with which you might be tempted to respond. When we keep the cross ‘front and centre’, we can swiftly bring to mind the amazing grace of God. I find that it’s a lot harder to be harsh and judgemental when I more regularly, and purposefully, remember Christ’s sacrifice for me. Just as we need regular intakes of food and drink to maintain our physical well-being, so our relationship with Christ will only flourish as we feed often on his flesh and blood.
 2nd Century document Octavius by Marcus Minucius Felix